On Top Of The World

As I suspected would happen from my last blog that Kindle acquisition is taking up huge lumps of free time with the abundance of free material and the information it can bring.  It’s great to feel a desire to get through the Communist Manifesto (surprisingly relevant ideally to a modern world economics, but limited by how global our world and the people have become) and a plethora of books on things from travel to science and odds and sods of anything interesting in between.

Over the holiday, I realized by around the 3rd January that I was actually rested.  I had the common ironic syndromes of this – my body deciding it would be perfectly wide awake at 03:00 for no apparent reason.  I’ve done that since I was a small boy fairly often – and I’m perfectly fine with it, but it only happens when I don’t need any more sleep.

In resting up over the two weeks, I hit the sales to show and get things at a fraction of the Swedish price.  And in that I’ve had to move up a trouser size.  Gulp.  Not really a huge shock, but the time cometh and I just crossed the 32 in barrier.  Thankfully, some of trousers in Sweden do still fit and I’m going to make sure they do.

I had been taking my foot of exercising too.  Yes, I can say I was working hard, that’s normal – I remember my first few months in Sweden when I was able to have a cheeky swim midweek and so forth and I wondered how on Earth I managed to fit it all in now, and once a week on a tired Sunday afternoon anyway was hardly inspiring any anaerobic respiration through my muscles.  I also insisted on the fact I wanted to turn off my fridge and freezer before leaving, which meant eating up about a kilo of blue cheese in 4 days before I left.

I wasn’t that hurt though even with an expanding waist band or the scales saying I was the wrong side of the 13 stone barrier.  After all, I know my upper body has bulked out since kayaking more than ever before.  I was able before I left to actually do something close to resemblance of a normal push up, a huge achievement I never really thought I would get to do.  I kind of sensed though that I needed a purpose and a fresh excitement to exercise again.  So, after a clever facebook advert, I have signed up for the 10 km Kistaloppet in August.  Now, a 10 km is not that far, but I want to set a semi-ambitious target of being able to complete it in 55 minutes.  Hopefully the excitement of a real race with thousands of others will be the spur particularly over the summer months to keep up the good work.   In the same vain, I’ve cut out cheese and any kind of spread from my diet and am focusing on eating silly amounts of vegetables at home (there is no way I am limiting what I eat at school).

What really hurt was how unfit I had become.  I struggled through staff innebandy on Wednesday noticing my heart rate exploding after a couple of minutes.  I was a passenger in the games and so out of touch.  My body confidence was pretty low.  I realized I was not in my best shape, but did not consider this.

And so I looked forward to finishing school on Friday.  If I have nothing planned for a Friday I will work usually to about 18:30 and then head swimming until the pool closes at 9.  It’s a great end to the week, the pool is always quiet and I even have a few friendly faces there now.  I was intent on doing a good session, I bought new goggles and everything.  I lost count of how many lengths I did and so forth, which is actually very unusual, but I managed to do all 4 strokes and sprints and long 30 minutes stretches that were so hard I got friction burns on my armpits from hitting the water relentlessly.  I stopped as the last person in the pool when I suddenly realized I was hitting my wall and I wasn’t quite sure I was in 100% consciousness.

Boy was I proud of myself that night.  I was too hungry to eat when I got home, so I’ve been grazing on cereal, bread and mushrooms ever since.  I just felt so good and I lost track of how much I ate.  I treated myself to use the sauna as well.  I felt I had achieved so much and I was so proud.  This was the road to recovery, the shining light.  As I feel asleep reading my kindle, I recall the words gently swaying on the screen as I lay in bed, the little shot or two’s worth of whisky hitting me hard in this state of exhaustion to send me into what I believed would be a dreamily long sleep.

I was not impressed that the first memory of this morning was that it was still dark, about 03:30 infact, way before I wanted to be up on the Saturday morning.  Especially after my momentous triumph of life the night before.  My head was spinning and liquid was dripping out my nose at every opportunity.  I was broken; I had done too much and my body couldn’t cope.  Some night-time grazing combined with soothing wet towel on my boiling forehead and the combination of paracetamol and anti-allergy tablets brought me back to a state where I would, eventually, drift back off to sleep

I awoke happy and content once again, and have hit the ground running with working and all sorts of jobs today.  I thought that every week and weekend might feel this good.  But then I remembered that I’m going to have so much marking to do that I realized these were the good times, and it was going to get tougher very quickly.  I hate marking but I love teaching.  Marking is by far the least inspiring part of my role.  It is far more satisfying seeing the learning happen live than it can ever be on some A4 paper.

However, I have an addiction.  I want that feeling of pride, that achiness in every muscle, that joy as the trousers fit once again.  I want to get fitter and this time I am going to make that a priority alongside my work.

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Slightly more power in my hands

Dearest loveliest Santa this year has supplied me with the new toy I am typing this post on, a kindle fire. I’m regretting this decision immediately, the keyboard on this thing is too fiddly to type on, and not just for being too small. The amount of times that I have pushed the page back button when I mean to backspace being the main drag in the design functionally, only seconded by the reloading of pages in the book store each time you switch search options.

However that book store itself has been a fascinating revelation. Flicking through the free books section in all variety of topics dear to my heart and I have delivered twenty homework-marking-putting-off-inducing titles to go through for my leisure. Reading is something I don’t do enough of, mainly as I’ve never really found it easy to find what I am looking for.  I’ve never ever been a fiction fan, and my childhood was spent with a fascination of the world atlas and fact books. Nowadays I’m ideally looking for political commentaries looking forward to the uncertainties of decision making in the troubled near future humanity is going to face.

However all of this inspired me. Many people dream of, or aspire to, write a book. And clicking through the Amazon store and seeing nowadays how the downloads have, refreshingly, first time amateurs side-by-side with seasoned professionals.

That’s one thing I love about Eurovision, and indeed the modern age in general. We talk through politics about equality, about providing opportunities fit for all to succeed, and the ability the internet provides to do that is second to none. Anybody can try anything, and you more than often will flop as the nobody, but being able to try and having the hurdles of publication removed creates a beautiful world where choice is in the hands of the seven billion and not the chosen few. It is something inconceivable to the thinkers of yesteryear, but something all would embrace if they could all imagine.

To write would be to akin to songwriting for me. I want that one shot when I get it right and I get some fame and glory from it all. But it’s no real career move, or ambition. I’ve always wanted that chance to do something that people think is really good. It’s that simple. The fame and recognition of being good is more than any monetary value can be for the smile on my face.

But then, the query would be what to write about, especially when trying to consider how to control the splurging writing style I have.  The Eurovision market is probably saturated, and maybe it would be unhealthy to investigate it further. However my favourite thing is to try and see how the things can change in the future, and that does excite me. I could attempt the same for politics, but think I don’t know enough. Similarly I could see if I can create a novel, but doubt I would have the knack of that to do it.  I could use this to have an excuse for a journey and to write about it, but, well, that just doesn’t feel right.

But a couple of hours on Christmas day were spent quietly in bed on my own flicking through the books online thinking that I could have a go too. This has inspired me and frankly should inspire everybody on the planet. The ambitious kids I teach should all have a go, now, as this is not a skill wasted but a skill learned, developed, enjoyed by self and by all. We need a world that continues to make creative culture free to all to truly find the very best on our lonely planet.

Home for Christmas

Home.

Home reminds me of so much that I look back on with regret.  I look at the chamber of computer games through the cupboards wondering what right minded person thought all of these were necessary.  I see the components all on standby, or the TV being ignored, and despite at the fate of our planet.  I see the shattered dreams of broken promises – the guitar I got for my brother he has barely touched, the smoky, ash-filled chamber of our conservatory, and the saddening routine of sofa positions my mum sits after another hard day working for the council.

This isn’t life.  This isn’t what human beings should be all about.

And yes, it is loving, warm, safe.  But it is all tainted beauty, troubled by imperfections and not striving to be the best and it brings out the worst in me and everyone else.  I have to leave the house at least once a day just to make myself feel sane and remind myself there is a world outside those doors.

It’s why I left – and in fact the entire area around in this lovely yet wasteland-like town of Rochdale only speaks out about the imperfections.  This just is not a pleasant place to be, and frankly, my heart depresses flying over from Sweden to the UK each time.  The deep reds and browns of our lifeless, tired estates sprawl monotonously across the city landscape, whereas seeing the lush snow white across the entire of Sweden, with pockets of water and forest, always gives me a reassuring piece of mind that I did the right thing in moving out there.

And this night makes me wonder about how amazing a Christmas can be.  Gets me thinking idyllically about that a snow capped Swedish countryside cottage that is also warm, loving and safe.  But differently, we think about the outside world.  We have developed relationships at Christmas that require more than a Christmas card that I scruff through the door at 21:00 on Christmas Eve – but those of neighbours and friends that actually do want to celebrate.  One that is exciting, honest, and built around that we can all have fun together.

Of course, one thing all of my family lack at the moment are children.  And of course, children do make the season.  Perhaps this is just a little rant at the sadness I have in feeling it is all a little bit forced now, when otherwise it would be so natural and exciting.  Who knows?  I can’t wait for that opportunity, assuming all of life’s remaining hurdles fall in place.

I think the main thing is though here, is that we share so little common interests.  We don’t horrendously enjoy the company of each other.  I love these guys to bits, and get on with everybody – but there is a limit to it.  Being in this home for too long drains the meaning of life out of me.  This is a desolate and lonely place and I feel for my little brother who needs to break free in order to do what 19 year old boys need to do.

However, tomorrow excites me.  I’m excited about presents, I’m excited about food and I’m excited about the good times.  I value it; I am not at all ungrateful.  In fact, more than anything I realise just how lucky I am to see the bigger picture, and how much I feel I need to set a good example to all in the future.  This break has been the reflection time I have needed and tomorrow I will put on a good shirt, join the family and do my darnedest to have a whale of a time.  It’s not all doom and gloom here you know, and I want to make sure you understand that.

Merry Christmas all!

Coffee – so surely middle-age has begun!

My dad is a coffee drinker, and my mum and the rest of my family tea.  Like their lives depend on it.  The state my mum is in the mornings is embarrassing and frankly, her self-admiitted inability to function in the early hours can come across very rude.  It’s something that we bright sparky young things don’t often understand.

Tea and coffee has in the home been offered to me on many an occasion.  I seem to recall one time where tea had be put onto my lips, and I decided it was the most disgusting thing ever and passed it to my younger brother, surely just a toddler at this point, who lapped it up and has never looked back since. 

It’s so funny how tea and coffee are such social institutions.  It is an expectation that one of the two would be available when people visit the house – and always weird whenever I was elsewhere that I would gladly and enthusiastically take water.  I couldn’t help but think how sad our nation was in this, and that it made a slight social outsider.  Thankfully, more focus has been given to drinks such as hot chocolates and smoothies that are not too odd to have in coffee shops and the like that will provide a suitable substitute.

The first time I remember drinking coffee actually has a great story to it.  It was my final year as President of Durham University Eurovision Society, when I was doing my PGCE.  We had organized a social for the Wednesday night – in part the reasoning being I had three lessons on the Thursday, but the earliest of them started at 11:45.  Our social theme, was BLUE, after the boy band were announced as the UK act, and the rest of the EuroPad joined me not in ‘blueing-up’ as all expected – but actually to go as the boy band themselves.  Social Secretary Bryn made it one of the best socials I’ve ever been on – I look back fondly on the Dunkin’ with Duncan James cracker challenge and the Lyin’ with Lee Ryan true of false round, but the classic was the Antony Costa Coffee Downoff. 

The aim was to drink a simple yet boiling hot black coffee as fast as possible.  It was hilarious, especially for me and Bryn who are awful speed drinkers and have never had coffee before ever, but I managed to get it all down me (I actually think Bryn gave up).  We couldn’t understand either of us how people would want to drink this stuff.

And that was it for coffee until moving here to Sweden.  I’ve had coffee offered to me on many an occasion, for example on planes, after meals and the like.  I know coffee is a bigger part of Swedish culture, and I figured it would be rude not to. 

And it’s now quite ok.

Coffee was free at the Swedish OGAE Annual Meeting, and rather than get very drunk on Swedish conference drink prices, the caffeine fix did me no harm, especially with the help of some sugar.  It works – and I get adjusted to the taste and smell and of course, with the addictive nature of the drug insisting my body to like it.

So I found myself working late yesterday.  I was sorting out marking re-tests, students needing to have academic concerns and phone calls to said parents and so on.  And I impulsively grabbed a cup of coffee.  So odd. 

I think I can enjoy it, but I don’t want to be a person who needs it each and every day.  Recreationally it is great – but I hope it remains the exception to the norm.  I don’t need it to be the happy, smily person each Monday morning.  Do I?  Not yet I hope!

An open letter to SL, Stockholm’s Local Traffic Heroes

I was thinking on blogging, on, of all things, coffee, just as I got off the bus at Danderyd to change to my other bus home.

I was on the 676, one of the few double deckers here and a joy to travel on, especially those with the free wifi too.  As I got off, I stumbled down the stairs, managing to fail to catch my iPod.  My wallet also must have stumbled out at that point and just as it sailed past me again had this dawned upon me.

I had the obvious panic of what the hell do I do.  I considered chasing it into town, but the next tunnelbana would be 10 minutes away and I might have missed it.  Thankfully, Danderyd is a manned station thanks to the tunnelbana below, so I went downstairs and, in a combination of bemused and befuddled English and Swedish, asked and pleaded for some help.  We cobbled together a phone call to the service depot, with word that they would find it for me and get in touch.  It was a bit confusing and still not really sure what was happening.  I got a number to my mobile almost immediately.  Somebody from customer service rang me just to explain what was going on, to make sure I was ok and I understood.  How stunningly efficient.

I had a nervous wait for the next step, the bus getting to terminus (in Stockholm) for the driver to check.  A phone call back from customer service explained that it was found successfully.  I this point I was still worried that some official protocol and paperwork would need to be filled in, but all I had to do next was find the same bus driver on his return journey and he would hand it to me.

It was a super super service, helpful, kind, quick, supportive and good honest work.  Frankly, I could have sang and shouted across the entire land how amazing Stockholm’s public transport was before tonight, but I’m writing this letter now for the entire world to see what I truly think.

The first thing I want the world to do (and SL themselves, who I will send this too) is to personally thank everybody involved who helped me at around 22:00 at Danderyd on Tuesday 18th December.  From the man in the tunnelbana station to the friendly, prompt and honest bus driver to the excellent customer service man who rang me with amazing clarity and care, they all deserve a huge pat on the back and a well done.

As a city size, Stockholm is smaller with population than Manchester by a long long way.  The transport though is completely unable to be compared.  One can go pretty much anywhere from anywhere.  Buses travel the length and breadth of the county, going everywhere even the smallest village lives.  It is superb.  A hobby of mine living here is just on a free day to take google maps, find somewhere that looks fun and then work out how to get there.  Journey planning on their website is fully reliable – better software in the future may make it completely live from anywhere you are to take it to the next level – but the software is world class even now.  Timings are more accurate than I recall in the UK and the sheer volume of traffic it carries shows how important it is to the Swedes.  Furthermore the variety of options of types of train, tram, bus and so forth is stunning – granted a more linked up system would be preferable in a design and efficiency point of view, but to link these in some cases old and previously isolated systems even under one roof is a special political statement.  The luxury of having a card that can take me anywhere on any public transport I like without having to think about the payment on a day-to-day basis is lovely, and stunningly reasonable value in a city with high standards of living like here.  I genuinely believe that the rest of the world may struggle to compare itself to this.

Plus, they are building more all the time.  I don’t think I can think of an already developed nation that is building and investing in transport so much.  Stockholm is a city with a minor but rising risk of being terribly underhoused and building is flourishing, and the geology of Stockholm makes it relatively cheap to build tunnels, however this level of infrastructure is never done in UK cities.  In fact, our local bus route to Manchester, quite frankly the only bus back home I have ever used, has now been pulled out of service by the contractor, and our much promised Metrolink service will arrive…’soon’ and will take double the time the train does to get into Manchester centre.   Much needed and sensible work, such as building a city centre tunnel to increase capacity, and a ‘normal’ (i.e. not an expensive express service) train to the airport, is being done (although, on the latter, the whole idea of extra costs for the journey is very very confusing and just the most tiny bit offputting – could a better method be either to increase overall price for everybody a fractional amount as so many of us go to the airport anyway and would support the extension).  For a city, yes a capital, but still relatively small, and to be full of difficult to navigate islands to cope so very well puts it top of the ladder for me and I can’t think of anywhere else that comes close.   Buses going on boats are awesome.

And of course, being Sweden, it is clean and super safe.  And of course, people don’t say hej back when I sit next to them on the bus.  I’m anti-social quite often on the 06:52 but that’s always going to be the polite thing to do in my world.

There are a couple of things I would like to ask though.

Firstly, some of the tunnelbana stops have only one exit (Duvbo is the one I know best), but the tunnelbana stops at the end of the platform furthest from the entrance.  I am sure there are signaling reasons for this, but I would like to ask if SL know about this and if it is intentional, why, as it is a bit silly and frustrating to walk that extra 20 seconds (and could make some people late too).

Secondly, I love the clarity of the maps that are available online of all the different bus routes.  http://sl.se/sv/Resenar/Planera-resa/Kartor/ – all the major transport stops have these maps and they are so useful and accurate.  Are these ever printed out for people, and, if so, how can I get them?  They would make a lovely Christmas present for someone I know.

Thank you if you are the poor soul working for SL who got this far and is still reading my lovely English letter about the transport – I am a huge fan.  I do not understand when the Swedes complain about transport infrastructure here.  Roads were clear a couple of hours after the biggest blizzard I had ever seen, many buses have good accesses for wheelchairs, and all can be used easily by prams, and finally it all works with stunning reliability.  When I first moved to Sweden, getting the bus to work was a big question mark for me, being stranded waiting for a bus was not an option to enthuse about.  However, they are so reliable and you really can pick your time to leave to arrive on the minute and know you will make the bus.

Thank you for the support,

Ben Robertson

Bringing out the worst in me

Dearest Blog

 

I’m really not in a pleasant mood today.  I’ve been letting the dark suffocate my mood, and certainly this is melodramatic, but I severely dislike some things a little bit.

So on this soul searching, I had a little moment. 

I had a flashback to one of my deepest memories.  Not one necessarily good or bad.  But something potentially very scarring and it is quite suppressed.   I would say I only really remind myself of it about once a year. 

Rather than wallow by myself, I figured it much more appropriate to let the world know finally.  I trust you can all take that.

My first ‘kiss’ was with a boy.

I would have been about 7 years old at the time I guess.  I had a friend from school I knew who I played football with on the weekends at the Bobby Charlton Soccer Academy in Middleton.  We were, at the time, in the same class at primary school. 

He was a better footballer than me (most obviously were) and he wasn’t the most academic of boys compared to me (most weren’t).  I did play for his local team a couple of times which was good when they were desperate.  I don’t really know why we were friends though, maybe through parents???

Anyway, usually we would go to each other’s home for lunch.  After that we could play computer games, more sport, watch TV, anything like that.  I have no idea at all how it happened, but one day it was suggested that we kiss.  And we did.  We were under the duvet and he was very definitely on top of me snogging me.  We didn’t go any further, although I remember certainly commenting on our penises getting bigger. 

This happened a few times.  We managed to have a very/not-so-convincing story about playing in bed or something equally innocent when my mum came in the bedroom one day.  She didn’t see anything, we were on other sides of the bed, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t be normal to see either way.

There is another similar incident.

A girl on my street to my knowledge had behavioral difficulties, and went to a specialized school to deal with this.  She was a year older.  I don’t remember thinking that she was very nice.  Anyway, when playing outside we would always organize different things.  She would be a ringleader as you can imagine.

There was a little alleyway next to wear I lived in-between the two houses.  One day, it was me and her, and she convinced me that the best idea was to expose our genitals to each other and rub them together.  I obliged. 

We even did the same thing in her bed one day.  I don’t really remember anything else from it, just a freeze frame of us lying there, trousers off, and my penis touching the outside of her vagina.  I had no idea what was going on.  I don’t remember how we got there, and how we finished.

These are isolated memories, but I would rather not have to deal with them alone her tonight, but needs must.  I think they have affected my viewpoint.   I think my views growing up on sex and relationships have struggled to fit into convention based on these events.  I remember, pre-puberty, running past some older girls in the neighbourhood with my penis out in the thought this would be attractive and get attention.

I thought the best way to get a girlfriend would be to try and get rumours spread about us being together, and then to write songs about her.

The boy I was with creates a thought that I can let myself get turned on at.  And no, I don’t want to have sex with small boys.   Why I dither and delve into ideas of other sexuality types can have and probably does possess some linkage to these ideas.  Somewhere deep in a subconscious something was clicked. 

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been scarred by the process, it’s just shaped me.  I love, admire and respect the beliefs I have now about the subject of sex and love.  These experiences taint a part of childhood and, now, for the first time, I question it.  I question if I am actually ok.

Usually, I fall asleep and then a new day comes with new priorities and ideas like this regress once again.  I feel that getting this on paper, however sketchy, should help, but actually it might be more of a painful reminder now I have written it, a constant reminder as to just how spoiled I am as a person. 

Huvudsats och Bisats – The Trials and Tribulations of Swedish Grammar

I have been thinking lots about a facebook status I was planning to write when term finishes on the 19th December.  Of course I’m going to spoil it now but it seems too tempting.  Buying an apartment, moving twice, attending Junior Eurovision as Press, teaching some damn fine lessons, living the busking dream, passing my Swedish for Immigrants course – and despite those hurdles and the early starts and late finishes – I’ve survived.  Roll on two and a half weeks break.

I will probably still use the same status so keep a look out for it.

But I have to actually pass my Swedish test to do so….it’s next Tuesday.

It is always a pleasant and polite surprise to people how good my Swedish is for someone who has lived in Sweden for such a short amount of time.  I wonder at what point that will change (some colleagues of mine have suggested 3 years as the cutoff point).  Even in Amsterdam to the fellow fans and family it was great to chat away in Swedish and to understand and be understood, even if it isn’t the best conversation.

I haven’t studied Swedish for a long time now.  Moving around has been part of the rationale for this – I’ve not been settled enough to go and study anywhere.  Yes, I know you can do stuff online.  But the best and worst bits about it are classroom experience.  Juxtaposed against awful quality teaching is a friendly, vibrant and interesting multi-cultural atmosphere that is always so fun.

However, I’ve registered, and they signed me up for finishing the course straight away if I pass the test.  As my teacher noted, I am certainly fluent enough to go for it.  I’ve always been a cocky little bugger in class.  I don’t work and write down things enough – I use the classroom as a performance stage and I most definitely try and run before I can work with my Swedish.  When I write letters, I try and include as much rhetoric as I know, some of which just doesn’t work or translate.  In discussions, I will argue points just so I can show my confidence in the language.  I’ve always felt even when it wasn’t, it was too easy, and I’ve played up to it.  It’s been fun though.  Especially the parts when you are practicing that important but so far elusive skill as flirting in Swedish (they had boyfriends).

As my teacher put it, my speaking, listening and reading are all perfectly ok, this makes sense.  I read the free paper on the way to work each day and I get through it more and more each time, and I use and need to use more each day Swedish working at school.  It’s funny now that even I will speak with some staff in Swedish.

My problem is my writing, and particularly my grammar.  This has always been a problem in English (I, lazily, attribute this as a casing point of me being a quintessential physicist – but then my real physicist friends would say I’m not one of them anyway).  I don’t understand the difference between effect and affect, as a casing example.  But I’m sure you can find many more littered through this one-draft-and-publish blog archive.  I had a friend I lived with at uni, a natural linguist (if a lazy muppet sometimes), who would always pull me up on my grammar.  Sometimes, I would accept it, but to be quite honest I didn’t most of the time.  We would end up agreeing to disagree.  I was adamant that I wanted to say things my way, even if told that was wrong.  Some of it just didn’t click.  Even now in Swedish class when I am corrected, I want to shout out and ask why because it doesn’t follow what I think I am trying to say – like the meaning is being changed as well.  I understand that we have a or an in English, and when to use which, even if logically it seems a waste of time other than for phonetic ease.  Swedish has en or ett, which don’t follow formal patterns, and you either know it or you don’t.  You have to try and work out what sounds right – but I’m not getting this right at all.

All of this might sound very worrying for somebody who watches lots of international TV via the amazingness of Eurovision, did Spanish, German and Italian GCSE’s, and was co-Editor of the college newspaper.  That co- part is quite important and relevant, because Becky was brill at checking after me and reigning me in if my ideas got too over-ambitious.

German in particularly had ridiculous grammar, and the word order held me back and left me always really unsure.  Spanish was so logical in comparison, with so much written in the endings of each word.  One letter to change the meaning from he or she to I or I would and so forth.  It fitted my way of thinking great.  Of course, it was not this simple, but I studied German for 5 years and managed to scrape an A (they took my predicted grade after I broke my elbow the day before – which was definitely a good thing), Spanish for 3 years and got an A*, and Italian for 4 months and got an dodgy A.

Word order is a huge problem in my Swedish.  I might still be at the stage of trying to translate my English to directly and too literally.  Huvudsats and Bisats are a key part of this.  I get it.  Ish.  But I have no idea of working out which is which and if my adverb is after or before my verb using it – I can’t think about how I say what I want to say based upon it – I can’t work out which rules to use before I do it.  Learning by ear, trying to pick and guess around it – that isn’t working either.

I’m going to squeeze in some time between final grades, marking, school council work, sledging (yay, loads of snow), seeing the Lucia in my new town, lots of Swimming, seeing Eric Saade, cleaning and trying to sort my apartment which is still relatively bare and perhaps some tutoring too a chance to nail this.   Otherwise I’ll be writing a very different facebook status in two weeks time.